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The Spark

Nov 22, 2019

Burnout is part of the American vernacular. It refers to the emotional exhaustion brought on by chronic work-related stress, and can manifest as cynicism and feeling like your work lacks meaning. The term was coined in the 1970s by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. He volunteered in a free clinic for patients with drug addiction and he used “burnout” to describe the exhaustion suffered by workers in helping professions, such as medicine, which carry rigorous demands and high ideals. While the term has been applied to other professions, burnout is particularly high in healthcare: a report released last month from the National Academy of Medicine describes rampant burnout, with up to half of doctors feeling it. There are many causes such as demanding work schedules and little autonomy. System changes have also created burdensome administrative tasks and new care models, leading some to feel the emphasis is on documentation billing and performance metrics instead of patient care. Like clinicians, trainees also suffer burnout – an estimated 60%. The path to medical school and then residency and fellowship is long and challenging, and it's becoming more competitive. The average test scores at most medical schools are rising, even while medical advances mean there's much more to learn now to be a competent physician. Host Tessnim Ahmad (MS4) is joined by Nikhil Rajapuram (MS4) and Dr. Lee Jones, Associate Dean for Students.

Get in touch with Nikhil:

Burnout Survey:


Music: Sneaker Chase by Podington Bear. Licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0.